Gross Point Blank

I'm no longer navigationally challenged

I'm no longer navigationally challenged

by Lynda Jo Gross

I recently learned some things that are going to be very useful, but I can't help but feel a bit bittersweet about my newfound knowledge.

I recently had the pleasure of trekking through five states to make it both to, and back from, my sister's wedding in Nevada. I traveled with my brother's best friend, Gary Stretch, and we were fortunate enough to be in an RV.

As we set out on our big adventure, Gary kept eyeballing the atlas and as he did so, he'd tell me we're taking blah-blah highway to blah-blah Interstate to blah-blah highway.

When I say blah-blah, I'm not kidding. I tune these things out because I'm notorious for my incredibly poor sense of direction.

This poor sense of direction used to extend to north, west, south and east. In fact, it was fun to say, "I don't know my east from my elbow." I found the humor in it.

But somehow along the way, I managed to figure it out. I think it happened one day here after I got lost in Sunnyside while on North Avenue.

Enroute to Nevada last week, Gary hands the atlas to me, opened up to the state of Washington.

I take a look at it and mutter, "Man. I can't believe you can use these things to get from one place to the next."

He looked agog. But if you follow this column, you know I'm not fooling.

As we're enjoying a barbecue at my sister Heidi's house the day before her nuptials and I'm talking to Ms. Ella Ray, a gentile southern belle who was married to our grandpa, we start to commiserate on how hard navigation in an unknown city can be. I said, "I get lost all the time, it's my gift," to which Ms. Ella Ray sweetly replied, "Darlin', I don't get lost. I just get a little misplaced."

I'm thinking, "Ha! Good one! I'm going to have to use that line."

But alas, the atlas proved too tempting.

During the 13-hour drive home, not only did I figure how to read the darn thing, I learned how to identify north and south (on the maps), etc., as well as whether or not to turn right or left when we happened on a certain town. I also learned that the little numbers between towns indicate how many miles separate them.

Eight hours into the drive, I found myself telling Gary how many miles we were away from the next town, and whether or not we were to turn left or right or drive straight through when we got there.

Even freakier is the fact that Gary started to count on me.

Me.

Now I'm left wondering, next time I hit the road and it's just me and my son, do I factor in lost time as I have in past trips? Will my drive be so predictable that I'll find it boring? Maybe, just maybe, it's possible that, since I don't read and drive at the same time, I can avoid using an atlas altogether and just enjoy the ride, like the good ole days, when a trip that was supposed to take an hour and half, tops, took three, but included lotsa patience and giggles.

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